OF THE OAXACAN ORGANS
The Oaxacan organs preserve elements of Iberian baroque organ design—one 45-note keyboard with a short octave and tuning in meantone temperament (until the mid-19th century), no pedals, and a rank of horizontal trumpets—at the same time that they developed idiosyncratic exterior features—a profile with rounded protuberances on the sides (“hips”) and the unusually lavish case and pipe decoration of many 18th-century instruments.
- Most of the organs are still in relatively authentic condition and have been little altered or modernized over the course of time. This is in large part related to the geographical isolation and poverty of many of their communities, the abandonment and neglect of the organs once they ceased to function, and a conservative tradition of organ building in Oaxaca which was resistant to change.
- Around 40% of the Oaxacan organs date from the 18th century or earlier, whereas most of the organs in other states of Mexico date from the 19th century.
- The majority of the organs were built in the state of Oaxaca, with the exception of a few later examples originating in Puebla. Although projects were often designed and supervised by non-Oaxacan maestros, particularly during the centuries following the Conquest, by the 19th century local organ builders predominated. From the earliest times, the actual construction and decoration of the organs would have been carried out by native artisans, manifesting the same talent for fine craftsmanship which still flourishes in the state today.
- All the Oaxacan organs are still located in churches; not one of them is in a museum.